- Looks great
- Plenty of high-end specs
- Lovely screen
- Quick, detailed camera
- Super cheap
- Have to import it
- Camera struggles in low light
- Skin is nothing like Android 6.0
- Review Price: £275.00
- 5.15-inch 1080p display
- Snapdragon 820
- 4GB RAM
- 32GB internal storage
- USB Type-C with Quick Charge 3.0
- Curved Gorilla Glass back
- Fingerprint sensor
- 16MP camera
What is the Xiaomi Mi 5?
The Samsung Galaxy S7, LG G5 and HTC 10 are all great phones. No doubt about it. But, they’re also expensive. You’ll need to shell out at least £500 to buy each device outright or pay £40 a month as part of contract. But what if you could get a handset with a similar spec for hundreds of pounds less?
The Xiaomi Mi 5 is just that phone. It has the same CPU as the HTC 10, a camera with the same megapixel count as the LG G5 and a design similar to the beautiful Galaxy S7. Yet it can be had for just £275.
It sounds like the perfect deal. And in many ways it is. The Xiaomi Mi 5 is a fantastic phone, with one major downside. It’s not on sale in the UK, or Europe or even the USA. And it probably never will be. If you want this phone then you’ll have to import it.
Xiaomi Mi 5 – Design
If you’ve caught sight of any images of the latest slew of high-end phones from Chinese manufacturers such as Huawei and Oppo, it won’t come as any surprise that the Xiaomi Mi 5 is a beautifully crafted piece of kit.
Like the Samsung Galaxy S7, the Mi 5 is a mix of aluminium and Gorilla Glass 4. There isn’t a hint of plastic anywhere – antenna lines aside – and it’s an exceptionally well put together device.
Related: Best Smartphones 2016
The sides of the rear curve slightly – like the Galaxy S7 – and this makes all the difference to how comfortable the phone feels in your palm.
The front is equally sleek, with a reflective “Mi” logo on the top, alongside the front-facing camera, and an elongated home button sitting below the 5.1-inch display. That single button has an embedded fingerprint sensor inside it, which is fast – really fast.
In my tests, the phone was quicker than both the HTC 10 and Samsung Galaxy S7 and on a par with the Huawei P9. It’s accurate, too, failing to recognise my digit only once in around 20 attempts. Although it’s an actual physical button that can be pressed down, it’s capacitive, meaning you can simply touch it to get back to the homescreen.
Xiaomi is playing up the almost bezel-less nature of this phone. And yes, while there is very little space between the edges of the phone and the screen, there’s quite a large black bar running around the display that spoils the illusion somewhat. In reality, the Mi 5 has about the same amount of bezel as the HTC 10.
However, when you consider that the big selling point of this device is its low cost when compared to other flagship phones – it retails for between £275 and £390 on Gearbest.com – the fit and finish on offer here is impressive.
The feel of the metal isn’t quite as good as that on the Galaxy S7, and it appears ever so slightly hollow and flimsy, but these are minor issues. In fact, it feels far superior than the odd “metal that feels like plastic” build of the LG G5.
If I’m being really picky, I’d say that the Xiaomi Mi 5 is too light. On unboxing the handset, I thought it was missing a replaceable battery as it was so light; this wasn’t the case. I prefer phones that have reassuring heft; the Mi 5 feels like it might turn to dust if it were to accidentally drop to the floor.
Xiaomi Mi 5 – Display
When you consider that the Xiaomi Mi 5 is mostly fitted out with high-end components, it may be surprising to learn that the 5.15-inch display is merely a 1080p panel rather than the retina-slicing quad-HD variety you’ll find on the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and HTC 10.
Does this make a huge difference on a screen of this size? Not really. The LCD IPS display is impressive, and if I’d been told that it had a 2,560 x 1,440 resolution as opposed to 1,920 x 1,080 then I’d probably have believed it.
Pixels are indistinguishable from each other, and since it’s an IPS panel viewing angles are actually far better than the AMOLED of the Samsung Galaxy S7. There’s also no pinkish tinge when you tilt the device to the side, something I found quite common on the HTC 10.
The display is superb to look at, offering punchy colours that are saturated and bright – but not overly so. Reds are accurately represented, rather than being almost luminous, and blacks are inky and deep. Whites look great, too, with no sign of any muddiness creeping in.
It might lack some of the vibrancy you’d get with an AMOLED panel, but you’ll truly only notice this if you have multiple phones lined up next to one another.
How we test phones
We test every mobile phone we review thoroughly. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly and we use the phone as our main device over the review period. We’ll always tell you what we find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.